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This huge Hubble Space Telescope mosaic, spanning a width of 600 light-years, shows a star factory of more than 800,000 stars being born. The stars are embedded inside the Tarantula Nebula. Click image for more info at Phys.org.
Given last week's frigid temperatures, you'd think all-time cold records piled up faster than the snow. But paleo-climatologist Michael Mann, author of the Hockey Stick & the Climate Wars and a very busy scientist over the last few days, pointed out something important. "During the last decade, record highs outnumbered record-lows by a factor of 2 to 1 in the U.S.  So far this decade, the number is closer to 3 to 1." Mann added, "There were a fair number of daily records set, but no all time or monthly low temperature records have been officially reported in the US as a result of this event." Dr. Jeff Masters at the WeatherUnderground agreed:
As notable as the week's cold wave was ... the event failed to set any monthly or all-time record low minimum temperature records at airports and cooperative observing stations monitored by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. As wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt summed it up for me, "The only significant thing about the cold wave is how long it has been since a cold wave of this force has hit for some portions of the country--18 years, to be specific. Prior to 1996, cold waves of this intensity occurred pretty much every 5-10 years. In the 19th century, they occurred every year or two. ..."
Confused? A record might mean the coldest January 7th ever recorded in, say, Detroit, or the coldest day ever recorded in Detroit, or we can talk about the coldest day in January ever recorded in Detroit. Scientists often use the latter convention as it provides a better apples to apples, seasonal comparison when analyzing trends. The usual suspects have been glossing over those distinctions all week and it's high time we correct them.
  • As we self-absorbed Americans mistook a nor'easter for a global event this week, adorable zoo animals in Brazil were given popsicles to help them get through the record southern heat wave afflicting that hemisphere, and bats literally fell dead from the sky in Australia by the tens of thousands, struck down by temperatures reaching as high as 130° F.
  • Earth's most magnificent carnivores are on a steep decline.
  • An Antares rocket made by Orbital Sciences successfully lifted off with badly needed supplies for the ISS this week. The launch had been already scheduled and cleared last year, but if this routine three-year launch bill already passed in the Senate and now sitting in the House doesn't go through soon, 2014 will become the year that new U.S. launches ground to a halt.
  • Meet Pearl, a real octo-mom:
    But suddenly the staff noticed something was going on with Pearl, the rare reef octopus they’ve had since September. Pearl’s eggs were starting to hatch. She’d been wedged into a high corner of the aquarium, not eating, not moving from that spot, for the past six weeks.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

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